Treatment for a Baker's cyst is not needed if you do not have any symptoms. Any symptoms you have can be treated at home.
Further treatment will only be needed if the cyst stops you using your knee or causes persistent pain.
To treat a Baker's cyst you can:
- take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and pain in the affected knee
- hold an ice pack to your knee for 10-20 minutes to reduce any swelling – try a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel (never put ice directly on your skin)
- rest your knee joint
- wear a knee support – you can buy these from a pharmacy
See your GP for further treatment if your cyst still causes problems after you've tried the self-care treatments.
One treatment option is to inject corticosteroid medication directly into the affected knee to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Treating a ruptured cyst
A Baker's cyst can sometimes rupture (burst), resulting in fluid leaking down into your calf. This causes a sharp pain in your calf, which becomes swollen, tight and red, but redness can be harder to see on brown and black skin.
The fluid will gradually be reabsorbed into the body within a few weeks. The recommended treatment for a ruptured cyst is rest and elevation (keeping the affected calf raised).
Surgery to repair knee damage
In some cases, it may be possible to drain (aspirate) a Baker's cyst. However, it may not be possible to aspirate long-term (chronic) cysts because the fluid inside them is too thick.
Surgically removing a Baker's cyst is not easy because, unlike other types of cyst, they do not have a lining.
Surgery may be needed to repair your knee joint if it's significantly damaged as a result of an injury or a condition such as osteoarthritis.
A type of keyhole surgery, known as an arthroscopy, is usually used. The surgeon will use an instrument called an arthroscope to look inside your knee joint. Small surgical instruments can be used alongside the arthroscope to repair any damage.